Attorneys used to say, "Do you remember a couple of years ago when you did such and such? Do you remember what case that was?" I'd be able to tell them, "Sure that was ABC, Inc.. v. DEF, LLC." Today an attorney sent me and another legal secretary the following e-mail: "I remember a while back, one of you transcribed something off of an audio, declared that it was true and correct, and we submitted it with a brief. Do you call the case?" My response: "It was me. I'll think about it a minute and get back to you." After a few minutes, I narrowed it down to two cases in my mind, and then I did some hunting on the hard drive and found it. In all fairness, "a while back," turned out to be 11 months ago. Okay, so that's not that long ago, but I'm 56 years old. I came up with it eventually, so I guess the old girl still has a few brain cells left. It does get a little frightening, however, that it takes me so long to be useful.
The trick is learning how to do things a little differently. I was able to remember the case because I stalled for a few minutes to collect my thoughts. I didn't allow myself to get rattled. On those rare occasions when I do have to speak to someone on the phone, I make a point of speaking slowly. I do that because most people will follow my lead and speak slowly in response, which gives me better odds at hearing each word as the person speaks. If I have trouble, I just explain that my hearing is not what it used to be. Almost everyone is understanding and makes a point to slow down and speak more clearly.
While time has changed how I do things, it hasn't changed my ability to actually do them. I'm learning to adapt. Since the piece of steel was placed in my ankle, I no longer run from my desk to the copy room when I'm copying and binding a brief on a deadline. I've come to realize that it's my responsibility to do the best I can; but it is not my responsibility to make up for attorney procrastination. It's taken me a 35-year career to be able to say that. I can actually say it with no feelings of guilt, no feelings that I'm not reliable, and no feelings that I'm not a "team player." Aren't you proud of me?